It’s Still a Long Way to the Altar by Rad

For the majority of individuals approaching teen-hood, it’s probably fair to say marriage is part of their vision (with or without the 2.5 kids and house in the suburbs).  I say majority, since most people are born straight, and in that overwhelming majority, most follow a fairly well-prescribed path into adulthood. There are of course those who eschew the common path and remain single or have multiple partners, simultaneously or serially, or who don’t believe in the institution of marriage and co-habit. Still and all, “most” folks eventually marry.

I knew way before teen-hood I wasn’t cut out for marriage. I didn’t really comprehend what lay beneath the reasons why, but I knew I didn’t fit the “typical” girl image (I hated dresses, dolls, and pincurls. I loved toy guns, dirt, and anything with –ball as a suffix, for starters). Add to that, the boys in my neighborhood were my best friends and my buddies, but I never imagined walking down the aisle with them. No. Not once. Since I could not see myself in my mother’s life, as much as I understood it fit her fine, I figured I’d be single.

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Then puberty came along, and I discovered girls in a whole new way. And I changed my mind about the single part. When I understood the “why” and “who” of me, I wanted to get married—I wanted to fall in love and build a life with a woman. I still couldn’t find any pictures of what that life might look like – not in film or fiction – not for years. And of course, there was the small matter of not being able to get married anyhow.

Gradually romances featuring LGBTQ people appeared, many of which depicted the challenges and pain of coming out, searching for an identity, enduring the loss of family and friends, and “paying the price” for happiness. Still, happy endings did finally arrive.

Now everything is different. Queer kids can look to the future and see their lives unfold in any number of ways—single, monogamous, asexual, polyamorous, and of course, married. We can get married and we have laws to protect our jobs and programs to support queer kids and maybe even someday soon we won’t be considered to be headed straight to hell by most organized religions.

We can write romances in this “post-gay” world where being queer is a given and concentrate on other themes and issues – the same ones non-LGBTQ characters deal with.  Simply put—we don’t need coming out stories any longer because coming out is no longer a big deal.

Does that sounds as ridiculous to everyone else as it does to me? All the authors out there who have never gotten an email thanking them for writing an affirming love story featuring queers, raise your hands. No one, right? Readers of all ages contact me exclaiming they’ve never read a lesbian romance before, and are so happy to see positive, passionate images of women in love. Sure, queer youth know a lot more about being queer than someone of the same age did, er—fifty years ago, but knowing and “coming out” to family, peers, co-workers, teachers, and on and on can still be frightening and painful. And there are plenty of queers in the world who still feel isolated, ostracized, and marginalized. Our fiction, in particular, our romances, create images of hope, victory, and promise that will continue to nourish our community for generations. Part of those stories need to be coming out stories, just as some need to be populated by heroes (gender inclusive) who just “happen to be queer”—because these are still our stories. 

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About Radclyffe: 

RadRadclyffe is an award-winning lesbian romance, romantic intrigue, and paranormal romantic fantasy author. She is one of the featured authors in the recent documentary film, Love Between the Covers, and is a frequent presenter/workshop facilitator at literary events world-wide. She is also the president of Bold Strokes Books, INC, a independent LGBTQ publisher.

About Against Doctor’s Orders

unnamedThere’s been a Rivers at the helm of Argyle Community Hospital for six generations, and Harper Rivers is set to take her father’s place whenever he decides to hang up his shingle. Unfortunately, the board of directors has other ideas—they’ve accepted a buyout offer from a health care conglomerate with plans to close the hospital’s doors to the community that depends on it. And Presley Worth, a high-powered corporate financier, has come to town to oversee the closure. Funny thing is, no one asked Harper, and she has no intentions of following anyone’s orders but her own—no matter how beautiful, smart, or commanding the new boss might be. 

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for this! Coming out today is every bit as fraught, and for some kids, as terrifying and damaging, as it was when I came out 40 years ago. In fact, I know I had a far easier time than many young folk today do, for a whole host of reasons. I was so lucky, and was also oblivious to how lucky I was. I count my blessings still.

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all experience for anybody, so individual stories are even more important now, in spite of positive changes!

  • Thanks for sharing! Every story finds it’s own audience and I think sharing will help others who may also experience the things you already have.

  • Thanks for this reminder of not only how far we have come but how much further we have yet to go. Coming out can still be terrifying and perhaps not even possible depending on personal circumstances. Coming out and being out can be an ongoing process.
    But thanks to reflections such as this, we are reminded of what has been accomplished and hopefully reinvigorated to carry on until the day arrives when coming out is not necessary and ‘same- gender’ marriage is simply ‘marriage’

  • And what about us, latebloomers, having discovered being a lesbian after being married with children? And feeling trapped?
    Coming out stories give us hope and comfort – especially those about older women.

  • I’m what you called, late in life coming our from the closet. I love Radclyffe’s stories! She shows all different types of qweers clears coming out. Very much bring out true struggle of their lives.

  • As you have all said things are much better than they use to be, but in country Queensland there are still pockets (blankets) of prejudice in homes and the workplace as isolated peoples and towns struggle to accept anyone who is different. I have a good friend who works as a carer in Mt Perry a small mining/farming town in central Queensland. Many of her work colleagues and the clients are not gay friendly at all, one old bloke questioned her about her sexuality and said his daughter was one of those and he hadn’t spoken to her in 30 years, what’s worse is he was proud of the fact. So yes, we have come a long way, but we have a hell of a lot further to go.

  • I work with College-aged kids who have just as much difficulty coming out today as what we experienced years ago. Just Friday I had a young man in my office who was figuring things out and fearful of telling his parents. He so badly wants to ask out another guy but is worried that his parents, especially his dad, will struggle with this. The situation does not seem any less intense and worrisome today than it was for my generation. The only difference is that he isn’t worried that his friends will reject him as many of mine did back in the day.

  • My sister is 23 years younger than me and her experience as an out lesbian in high school was way more different than the few out lesbians I went to school with. It was all positive for her as not only was she on the boys varsity football team, she was also voted prom queen.

  • We have come a long way but the fight for equality goes on. For some people, especially those in smaller, more conservative places, books are their only glimpse into the culture they find themselves drawn to. You can never omit any story issues no matter how far you think we have come because each story touches each reader differently and gives them something they need. Thank you to all the authors I’ve read who helped me during my coming out process in my mid thirties and keep them coming. Thank you

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